2009 has been a very poor year for essential oil yields in Crete. Despite large increases in bio-mass, oil to mass ratios were appalling. Earlier in the year more than 28 kilos of our best angustifolia flowers produced less oil than did 20 kilos in 2008 and according to janina a 2 Kazani distillation of rosemary that he and janina did last month produced only 100 ml of essential oil. As you can see we had pretty much a truck full of spica (12 sacks) and another 12 kilos of angustifolia to sweeten the overall character of the oil.
when we arived Babis already had the first still at temperature. He had not, however, foreseen that we would have so much biomass and having packed the first still he swiftly prepped the second still - 2 kazanis is a record for us although the second still had a little room left.
5 and a half hours later the oil began to run ... and run ... and run.
Once the still were packed and the steam boilers were running we could sit back for a while.
Babis had a new separator this year - pretty but not calibrated so we had to measure the oil after it was separated - 1850 mls in all. (we got 1500 mls from 6 sacks of spica in 2008! Looks like 2008 was more amazing a year than we had fully comprehended. Hey ho - such is the life of a lavender farmer but as you can see gill is not downcast. This annual magic never fails to lift the heart.
For the first time we even have a photo of the first still being emptied. That biomass has no scent - the oil has taken it all - but makes great compost.
The last part of the distillation involves the heaviest of the oil and this is only freed from the plant matter after 7 or 8 hours of distillation. It is not cost effective to extract these parts of the oil but then we produce for quality not money and that is part of the reason that you will never smell another lavender oil like ours.